Those in the South know hurricanes well and they also understand that water-damaged cars often result from these destructive storms. In fact, hundreds of thousands are often damaged during a severe hurricane. However, cars also get flooded every day throughout the world thanks to a variety of other reasons. These can be the result of sudden storms that cause flash floods or people attempting to drive through a temporary or permanent river. Regardless of the cause of your water-damaged car, your focus now turns to determining whether it’s salvageable.
Is it damaged from salt water or fresh water?
The type of water that flooded your vehicle is a very important factor when determining if you should bother fixing a water-damaged car as salt water is significantly more harmful. Many insurance companies will define a vehicle as a “total loss” if fresh water has reached the dashboard. Conversely, the same declaration is often made if salt water reaches just the underside of the car or roughly a foot off the ground.
The main reason for the difference between the two scenarios is due to salt causing rust and corrosion to occur even though your car may appear fine after it’s dried out. That’s because salt is often invisible while it damages a car’s mechanical and electrical systems, the latter being an especially strong concern if your car has many electric-powered elements, which is the case in more and more vehicles nowadays.
Note that even if it’s just fresh water, mold could have started to grow in different areas of your damaged car. This can hinder how well your car works, but perhaps more important are the health risks of having mold in the heating/cooling system or elsewhere and regularly breathing it in.
And, of course, rusting can still result from fresh water. Even if the impact is not as significant, it could still be significant enough to seriously damage your car.
How can I fix my water-damaged car?
Don’t start up your car until it’s dry and you’re sure that no water remains, including with the gas or oil. If water has settled in with the fuel or oil or is in the transmission or engine, you could be doing a bit more damage by attempting to get the car started. You also want to disconnect the battery to ensure that no further damage occurs due to sparking and that you don’t get shocked as you analyze the damage that has occurred to your water-damaged car.
Also consider that warmer weather will speed up the corrosion process, so if it’s expected to be quite warm in the coming days, that should speed up the timeline of you attempting to fix your water-damaged car. Of course, those temps will also cause the water to evaporate more quickly, which is great if your car was damaged by fresh water only, but do consider that even rain will often have some salt content to it.
Final considerations for your water-damaged car
You should determine how much your car was worth before it got damaged. If there were any other issues it may have had. With the help of professionals, how much it would cost to fix flood-related damage as well as any non-flood issues that you expected it to start having in the near future.
If the flood damage and the costs to fix it are not that extensive relative to the value of the vehicle, it makes sense to get it fixed and continue using it. But, if that’s not the case, you should seriously consider selling it to a junk yard so that you can get paid for what can be salvageable or, if literally none of it can be, at least earning the car’s worth in scrap metal and then looking to secure a new form of transportation.
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